A Palm Beach hospital is being sued for medical malpractice related to the preventable death of a 25-year-old man. Josh Dziedic passed away at Palms West Hospital on August 22, 2016 after what should have been a routine IV removal, which resulted in a venous air embolism. The lawsuit alleges a veteran nurse at the hospital failed to take appropriate precautions when removing a central venous catheter, including properly positioning the patient’s body and instructing him in proper breathing techniques.
Dziedic was in the hospital recovering from an opioid overdose. His family was particularly shocked at his sudden passing because at the time of his death, he appeared to be on the mend. The lawsuit claims that not only did the nurse who removed the catheter fail to take appropriate safety precautions, but that the hospital attempted to cover up the incident by blaming the death on a false diagnosis of ‘broken heart syndrome,’ which was a result of Dziedic’s opioid addiction.
The lawsuit also claims that the hospital was further negligent in failing to properly report the cause of Dziedic’s death to authorities. In a review conducted by the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA), the agency concluded that Palms West failed to report the venous air embolism to the state, failed to document Dziedic’s death as a medical error, and failed to include the incident on the hospital’s annual report.
The hospital continues to deny the allegations, despite the AHCA report findings, the acknowledgement of the embolism in the doctor’s note of the incident, and the admission of several nurses that protocols were not followed.
Venous air embolisms, also known as vascular air embolisms, occur when air is injected into a patient’s venous system. The pocket of air subsequently disrupts the flow of blood from the heart through the veins. The symptoms of venous air embolism vary based on the amount of air that is injected into the veins, and, while not always fatal, can lead to serious complications like cardiovascular collapse.
These embolisms are a rare occurrence, with a vast majority of incidents occurring after certain medical procedures. The procedure at highest risk of embolism is the removal of a central venous catheter, which the lawsuit alleges caused Dziedic’s death. Central venous catheters are inserted into veins and arteries deep within a patient’s body to administer medications over a long period of time. Changes in pressure caused by the improper removal of a catheter, combined with pressure changes that occur with respiration, can introduce lethal amounts of air into the vascular system.
It is estimated that 0.2% to 1% of patients who undergo this procedure will suffer from an embolism. If identified early, venous air embolisms are highly treatable.
Dziedic’s mother told the New Times that she may have been willing to forgive the hospital’s mistake, had it not been for staff attempts to shift guilt onto the family for their role in his supposed ‘broken heart syndrome.
In addition to the negligence staff demonstrated in failing to follow procedure, false diagnoses by medical professionals are irresponsible and extremely harmful. In addition to allegations of medical malpractice, Dziedic’s family is suing for damages related to conspiracy and infliction of emotional distress.
Death and injury due to negligent hospital staff is an unfortunate, yet unfortunately common occurrence. If you or a loved one has been injured due to hospital negligence, you may be entitled to monetary compensation under Florida Law. Contact the Law Team at Fetterman & Associates today to speak with one of our medical malpractice experts at (561) 693-3872.
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